Interviewing Daniel Qula Sarme

Our culture depends on the propagation of information from older people in our society to the next generation. Elders from Alayalagaya hold both, not only information but also experience. Their knowledge can influence the lives of all members of the community. The oldest person in Ayalagaya Ward shares his views about the past, the present and the future with Karimu.

What is your name?
* I am Daniel Qula Sarme.

How old are you?
* I am 96 years old. That makes me the oldest person in the community.

Do you live with your whole family?
* I live with my youngest child and five grandchildren. I got married in 1941, but my first wife died. In 1978 I got married for the second time. I have 15 children and many grandchildren. So many, that I cannot count them anymore.

How do you intend to celebrate your 100th year birthday?
* I am pretty sure there will be a big celebration. Of course, I will invite all my children and grandchildren. I expect to have all people of my clan as my guests as well. I will slaughter a cow, prepare rice and share a good time with all my kin.
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How do you feel as the oldest person in the community?
* I feel good and well respected. In our community, the most important thing is respect for elders. We respect each other. We even have special greetings for older people.

But how do you teach the young ones respect?
* We teach them to fear God. They may be cursed if they do not respect older people. If that does not work, they have to learn it the hard way.

During all these years, have many things changed?
* Not many people know the traditional dances any more. They are practiced only in some places. I am glad we have kept our traditional songs. That is good. Our language Iraqw however might disappear, as the younger people speak only Swahili. I would say tradition is disappearing. For instance, I believe many farmers nowadays are just looking for money instead of thinking about the community. This makes me sad.

And among the elderly, do you realize any changes?
* I think we are lacking leadership. We used to meet more often to discuss important issues of the community. I am unhappy to see how it is going. That is why I am trying to convince the elderly to meet like we used to before.

What do you wish for the future?
* I wish the Maternity Clinic built by Karimu could be upgraded to a Health Clinic. I also want our friendship with Karimu to keep on growing.
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